Her husband usually doesn't beat her.
The one 12'x12' room they share with their two boys has only a little mold on the walls.
Although she quit school in the fourth grade, she can read, and read well.
The drinking isn't quite constant, and he promised from jail last month he would quit... soon.
When she falls to the end of her rope with caring for two babies (ten months apart), her husband's grandma will watch the littlest one for a night.
I ask my friend to help Girl 2 make spaghetti.
"Spaghetti?" She repeats, uncertain. "I can't cook. I'll get dizzy or something."
She shifts her foot away from the direction of my small kitchen.
"You are a capable woman, and Girl 2 need some help. Let's go make spaghetti."
Girl 2, my sweet sister, loves and teaches and loves and teaches.
"So, when the pot of noodles starts to boil over, I just lift it off the burner, like this."
"My grandma always says that it's important to eat well-balanced meals. She's good at having a side of vegetables with every meal, but sometimes I forget."
"To see if the green beans are done, I just bite one!"
"Here, you season the meat, just dump these spices in. It will taste great."
How does she love so sincerely and teach so graciously without sounding bossy?
I guess I'll never know... since I'm an oldest.
I pray, but I don't know how to pray.
I don't understand.
I remember other women I know.
One married to a man who desperately wanted a son. She infertile, he looked elsewhere. When questioned about his wife, he lied to another man. Twice. They never really settled. One year here, another year there. Suddenly, she looked around and realized she was old.
God, the One Who Knew her heart, changed her name and blessed her beautifully.
One a competent woman on the surface, homeowner of a house with a view. But the wealth came through what she most despised, prostitution. In a moment of crisis, she works against her own government.
God, the One Who Knew her heart, kept her safe, kept her family safe, and provided an out to a fresh town and a fresh life.
One beautiful young woman, already a widow. She experienced the debilitating loss of both her children. Leaving the home of these memories, she moves in with an angry woman, her mother-in-law. A below minimum-wage job provides bread, but not much else.
God, the One Who Knew her heart, sustained her. Caused a decent, kind sort of guy to become interested. It worked out between them. Her mother-in-law even brightened up after a while.
These women I don't know from college geography classes, soccer teams, or Moms' support groups. I know their stories from the living, breathing word of God.
When they sought God, He answered their hearts' cry.
He treasured them.
And they knew they were treasured.
I know a little better how to pray. At least, my prayers are full of hope.